The request of $1.3 trillion from Germany is based on flawed research, critics say.
The lower house of Poland’s parliament voted on Wednesday to demand $1.3 trillion in reparations from Germany for damages incurred during the Nazi occupation. The demand is a controversial one, with researchers saying that some of the atrocities referenced by Warsaw were actually committed by Poles.
The reparations bill passed by 418 votes to 4, with Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and its opposition uniting behind the demand.
PiS has called for compensation from Germany ever since it took power in 2015, and while a 2019 estimate put the apparent cost of the Nazi occupation at $850 billion, a report commissioned by the party and published earlier this month hiked the price tag to 6.2 trillion zlotys ($1.32 trillion).
At the time of the report’s publication, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynsk said that the estimate was a “conservative” one that Germany could pay, and that Berlin paying up would serve “true Polish-German reconciliation.”
Germany has argued that Poland waived its right to reparations in a 1953 agreement signed by its communist government and East Germany, and in a 1990 treaty between East and West Germany and the USSR, US, Britain, and France. Poland countered that the 1953 agreement was signed under duress from the Soviet Union, and that it wasn’t involved in the 1990 negotiations.
Furthermore, the reparations report lists several sites where Jews were murdered at the hands of Polish citizens, Jan Grabowski, a Polish-born professor and Holocaust researcher at the University of Ottawa, told the Times of Israel last week. Blaming these pogroms and atrocities on Germany alone, Grabowski told the newspaper, is “quite appalling.”
“It is a purely political document with no historical value,” Grabowski said of the report.